Michter's new distilling and maturation team now includes Andrea Wilson, Pamela Heilmann and Dan McKee. | Photo courtesy of Michter's Whiskeys

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Michter’s Distillery announce the promotion of Pamela Heilmann to master distiller, a position held by Willie Pratt for several years.

Heilmann’s appointment makes her the first woman in Kentucky to be named master distiller in an operating distillery. In her last role at Jim Beam, she oversaw operations at the Booker Noe plant in Boston, Ky. It is the largest bourbon distillery in the world.

For Pratt the change signals a transition to a flexible schedule as Michter’s master distiller emeritus. He joined the company in 2007, when, as the distillery’s president, Joe Magliocco commonly puts it, “We were cooking in someone else’s kitchen,” meaning Pratt was overseeing the making of Michter’s whiskey elsewhere. Prior to that, Pratt spent nearly four decades with Brown-Forman.

Today’s news includes Michter’s vice president Andrea Wilson adding the position of master of maturation to her duties. That role will see her monitoring the brand’s whiskeys while aging in barrels.

Prior to coming to Michter’s, she was an executive with spirits giant Diageo, and was the first woman to serve as chair of the Kentucky Distillers Association.

Michter’s distillery manager Dan McKee will move up to the distiller position formerly held by Heilmann. McKee previously worked alongside Heilmann at Booker Noe Distillery, as distillery supervisor.

“For some time we have been preparing for this transition,” Magliocco said in a news release. “At Michter’s, the quality of our whiskey is so, so important to us. I am excited that we have phenomenally talented people like Pam Heilmann, Andrea Wilson, and Dan McKee assuming greater leadership positions and carrying on the remarkable work done by Willie Pratt.”

Heilmann said in the release that the appointment “fulfills my dream of becoming a master distiller. Over the years, I have had the privilege of working in this wonderful industry with some legendary whiskey people. I feel honored to have the opportunity to continue to uphold the incredibly high standards set by the Michter’s team.”

Referencing Pratt’s nickname as the denier of whiskey he deems not ready for release, she added, “I am delighted to assume the ‘Dr. No’ position as the gatekeeper ensuring Michter’s quality.”

According to the release, Pratt will be honored with the naming of the “Pratt Whiskey Lab” at Michter’s Distillery in Shively.

“Willie is an American whiskey treasure,” Magliocco said. “He knows so much about whiskey, and he has contributed greatly to building our Kentucky distillery and establishing Michter’s as the brand it is today.”

Additionally, Michter’s is also announcing the October release (its last for 2016) of its 10 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and the only 2016 release of its Michter’s 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon. U.S. suggested retail price per 750ml bottle is $120 for Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon and $600 for Michter’s 20 Year Bourbon.